The push by farmers to have poison baits dropped from planes to kill wild dogs and dingoes has been successful. A three-stage government trial is currently going on and so far it has only shown that planes can drop baits accurately. But ‘can’ does not mean ‘will’.
A senior scientist at the Arthur Rylah Research Institute, Alan Robley, said aerial baiting could be used in the forest buffer zone outside farms by early April, if the trials succeed.
But the Department of Primary Industry and the ARI have to first show that only wild dogs will take the baits, not other species. Camera trials used to determine which animals take (dummy) baits are currently going on. However, lack of evidence of native animals such as the quoll taking baits now, does not mean they never will. Endangered species are in such low numbers that these sorts of trials may not work on them – quolls may not have been in that specific area at the time of the trials. They live and move over several thousand hectares.
Proper scientific trials should be repeated many times to ensure the outcome is not just a one-off. The survival of an endangered species is too valuable to trade for political expedience and placating bleating sheep farmers.
In the north-east of Victoria wild dogs are being captured and fitted with GPS collars to monitor their movements. Researchers are trying to do the same with quolls, but since these native animals are far less common, they are having trouble catching a quoll. If they can’t prove that only dogs will take free meat, we hope they stop the proposal and tell the farmers it’s not on.
The 1080 aerial baiting trials being done beyond Swifts Creek were a classic stuff up. The 1,000 or so baits dropped from the air were under-dosed. This means dogs would have just become sick and learnt to be bait-shy. But other small meat-eating critters could have died. So they had to do it all again! Sheesh!
Jill – December ‘07